After years of planning, I finally embarked on a study exchange to Japan, at Oita University to be specific. The twist is that I didn’t set foot anywhere near Japan and completed the entirety of the exchange remotely, from the safety of my living room in Tampere. This was of course all due to the ongoing pandemic and the fact that no foreigner without residency was/is allowed into the country. As I completely missed out on the aspect of immersing myself in the local culture, this post will solely focus on the academic side of things.
The exchange program at Oita mainly focuses on Japanese language and culture. I personally enrolled on four Japanese language courses and four courses touching upon different aspects of Japanese culture. My days generally started at 7am and ended at 12, that being Finnish time. The scheduling was worked out rather well by Oita University, taking into account the fact that there are people attending the lessons across many different time zones.
Compared to what I’m used to at TAMK, the lessons at Oita had less interaction between students. That could of course simply boil down to the fact that the lessons were implemented remotely. Overall, the interactions with other students were relatively limited. I didn’t have any contact with others outside of classes and related coursework. I didn’t really mind this as I’m more of a lone wolf anyway, but I still suppose it would’ve been nice to connect with someone on a deeper level. That being said, the lessons were very efficient. I can’t really elaborate on this. I guess I could say that the structure and the flow of lessons was very efficient.
Overall, the most valuable thing I got out of this program was the Japanese language studies. The quality of the Japanese lessons was top notch with great teachers and the lessons went a long way in improving my Japanese. While I feel like I mostly missed out on the cultural and social aspects of an exchange, I can still say I’m happy I took the chance to do this exchange remotely. While far from ideal, it was still the best thing I could’ve done under these circumstances.